OK, this recipe is a bit involved, but it's actually easier than it looks. If you've got a bike race victory to celebrate, or if you're just feeling daring... Allez! Allez! Allez!
A mixer isn't absolutely necessary, but not having one might make this a 2-day process.
First, make the pâte a choux...
125 ml water
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
50 g unsalted butter
75 g all purpose flour
handful toasted almond slices
Grease and paper the bottom of a 9" cake pan.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
Boil the water with the salt, sugar and butter.
Remove from heat and add the flour in one shot. Mix with a wooden spoon as hard as you can, leaving no flour lumps.
Place back over the heat and stir until a clean ball forms which doesn't stick to the pot or spoon.
Take off the heat and begin adding the eggs, a little at a time. After each addition, mix thoroughly until it is well combined. You know you don't need any more egg when: the mixture is not elastic, has a bit of a shine to it, and a line drawn deep in the batter closes slowly at the top. It is now ready to pipe.
Fill a piping bag fitted with a large star tip with the batter. You should pipe while it is still warm.
Pipe a large circle, following the circumference of the cake pan. Make another circle on the inside of the first, widening it. Next, pipe the final circle on top of the other two, giving it height. Brush it with egg wash and sprinkle with almonds.
Place in the oven and bake until slightly golden. Turn down the heat to 350 degrees F, and bake until uniformly tan in colour. Remove from heat and cool on a rack.
It can be frozen at this point, or used immediately.
Now for the mousseline...
375 ml milk
55 g praline *
170 g sugar
60 g cornstarch
375 g unslated butter
* Note: praline refers to roasted and caramelized nuts which have been ground into a paste, not the hard candy.
Heat the milk until it is hot.
Mix the sugar, eggs and cornstarch well. Add a bit of hot milk to the egg mixture, then pour the eggs into the milk and place back on the heat.
Stir or whisk constantly, until the mixture thickens and bubbles a few times.
If you don't have a mixer, add the praline and butter at this point, allowing both to melt. Mix well, cover with plastic and chill overnight.
(However, if you have a mixer, remove cream from heat, place in a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap, which should touch the surface of the cream. Chill.
Soften the praline in the mixer, once smooth, add the butter. Place softened butter in a bowl. Empty cream into the mixing bowl and mix with a paddle until it is smooth. Add the softened butter gradually, allowing the mixture to get fluffy. Place in a bowl and chill half and hour.)
Remove mousseline from the fridge and mix with a spatula or whisk to soften it. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip.
Cut the choux paste wheel in half horizontally. Pipe mousseline onto the bottom, not excessively, but to cover and lift up the top a bit. Replace the top, press gently to adhere, and sprinkle icing sugar over the brest. You are done.
Serve immediately or chill several hours.
Can also be made smaller as an individual pastry.
+ With the leftover choux paste, you can pipe mini eclairs.
I am thinking about doing a Saturday workshop about mini eclairs for the holidays. Anyone interested?